BY AMANDA WALDROUPE
A Portland nonprofit has invented a bed that it hopes will help fight the bed bug infestation that has hit apartments, hotels and other buildings throughout the city.
Affordable housing providers for low-income and formerly homeless people have been hit especially hard. Infestations began three or four years ago. Bed bugs breed in large numbers, can go 18 months without eating, and are very small, making it hard to find and kill them.
Central City Concern, an affordable housing developer and social service agency, says its new bed is bed-bug resistant. Its prototype bed is made of angular steel, with splayed feet, which takes advantage of a bed bug’s Achilles heel, a small footpad that makes it impossible for them to climb metal or other smooth surfaces, and there are no crevices where one piece of the bed frame is connected to the next.
“They can’t hide,” says executive director Ed Blackburn. The mattress is durable enough that bugs cannot get inside.
The bed is patent-pending and will be manufactured locally. The prototype was made at the beginning of this year and installed at two apartment complexes operated by Central City. Blackburn hopes to have the beds installed in all of the nonprofit’s 2,000 units and sell it to other housing providers. Blackburn says a price has not yet been set.
“We can really reduce the impact of [bed bugs],” Blackburn says. And then providers can pat — not scratch — themselves on the back.